Sunday, March 4, 2012

Close encounter in Athens

Areopagus from the Acropolis

The Athenians
The world does not stop admiring the intelligence and beauty in classical Greece preserved in their art and architecture, their religion, temples, statues of gods and goddesses, their mythologies, their poetry and prose, their dramatic tragedies and funny comedies in those magnificent amphitheatres, political speeches, documents on history and geography, their mathematics, their natural sciences and their philosophy.

The renaissance of the classical Greece and Rome in medieval Europe changed the course of human history.

The Greek language is very expressive and capable of being used in most complicated and accurate formulations of human thoughts and feelings. No wonder God of Israel chose it as the language of the most important book.

Let us keep in mind the powerful encounter of Hellenism and Judaism in the Holy Land that has left a lasting impact on the Jewish Theology and history.

The Missionary
Saul was born to a Jewish family in the city of Tarsus and got the strict education of a Pharisee from the famed Rabbi Gamaliel the Elder.

Well versed in the Bible, an expert on the Torah of Moses, a fundamentalist fanatic searching followers of Jesus of Nazareth with the authority of to Sanhedrin in Jerusalem he personally met this supposedly dead man. There were rumours among the Jewish people that Jesus was alive again and this was causing quite a stir. The rabbis had decided that who believes such a claim must be thrown out from the synagogue.

Paul, as he was now called, tells in his unique collection of letters that has survived in the New Testament, that Jesus Himself trained him during those years in the Arabian desert.

When he finally reached Jerusalem early Christians there were still wary of him - so effective he had been in rooting out the new sect from the midst of the Chosen people. At the end they recognised his teaching as genuine and it has become the fundamental pillar of the new religion, Christianity. 

The encounter
Paul left Jerusalem and the Jews and began to tell, teach and preach to the Gentiles what he was given by God to tell them. He calls himself "apostle by the will of God".

On his travels he crossed Pontos reaching Europe and wandered south through Thessaly and the coastal road until he reached that famous cradle of civilization, Athens.

A talkative guy, he could not keep silent and the Athenians as curious people invited him to state his case in the Hyde Park of the time - the Areopagus at the foot of the Temple of Pallas Athena.

Well, he took the opportunity and we have an account in the Acts of Apostles in a few short sentences telling more or less what he said.

The reaction was mostly ridicule since he mentioned the resurrection of a dead man.

A few of the listeners actually took him seriously, harbingers of new times - for Greece very soon became an important cradle of Christian civilization and is today, after the fall of Constantinople, the main centre of Eastern Christianity.

The ancient classical heritage of Greece is well and alive and the spiritual encounter between it and Christianity.

The dialog was a tie - Christianity would have an enormous impact on the people and history of Greece and the Classical Greek thinkers would had an enormous impact on Christianity.

Space talk
Jews do not have so much Philosophy of Religion or attempts to define God.

But the encounter in Athens is quite remarkable from the philosophical point of view.

The most important messenger of God and one of the most important human civilizations in terms of intellectual achievement.

No comments:

Post a Comment